Small Farmers in Mexico Keep Corn’s Genetic Diversity Alive
November 27, 2018 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Campesinos are driving the evolution of maize in North America

Like his parents and grandparents before them, Edilberto “Beto” García Cuenca started farming the land when he was just a kid. The descendant of a long lineage of “campesinos”—a Spanish term for family farmer—he still grows maize in the small, five-acre plot his mom left him in their hometown of Santa María Zacatepec in the Mexican state of Puebla. He also plants beans to keep the soil fertile and relies on rain to irrigate his crops.

posted by poffin boffin (9 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
If you want a “practical” reason why this is so important, these reserves of genes are a hedge against the catastrophic failure of monoculture crops.

If you don’t care about that, it’s just neat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:50 AM on November 27, 2018 [4 favorites]

If you don’t care about that, they're often quite a bit tastier than crops optimized for mass production.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 8:55 AM on November 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

In New Mexico, you can't spell "breakfast/lunch/dinner" without "blue corn." In much of the USA, blue corn posole and blue corn tortillas are sadly AWOL.
posted by kozad at 9:05 AM on November 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

The world gets greener, tastier, more colorful.
posted by Hypatia at 11:47 AM on November 27, 2018

What happens to the colours in these kernels when you cook them?
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:10 PM on November 27, 2018

not the same varietal, but this is glass gem corn both uncooked and partially popped. the colors do dull a bit after cooking but i wonder if the color could be preserved similarly to green beans by shocking with ice water afterwards. (for boiled corn at least. no one wants cold wet popcorn.)
posted by poffin boffin at 6:06 PM on November 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Just reading recently about a variety of red corn from coastal SC area and it's unique taste. Apparently saved from extinction by locals and now used for great grits and premium whiskey in Charleston.
posted by nofundy at 6:48 PM on November 27, 2018

between corn and potatoes, there are SO MANY other great kinds that most people outside of south/central america have no experience with and it's a damn shame.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:57 PM on November 27, 2018

Previously, on Snot Corn...
posted by pykrete jungle at 9:18 PM on November 27, 2018

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